I remembered this as I processed the disappointment of another 'no'.
You can be an excellent candidate and still miss out on the job, an interview, a scholarship.
The thing you cannot avoid is the feeling, as your application is rejected, that you are not an excellent candidate. The knowledge that someone else was deemed more excellent, a better fit, more worthy candidate inevitably makes you feel unworthy, unwanted, not good enough.
I'll be honest, I don't have a solution, or even any suggestions, for others in similar circumstances.
The reality that for every dozen applications you submit, you might expect to receive one scholarship offer is no comfort when your energy has poured into dozens of applications and the one or two you've received are the smaller ones, meaning you must continue to pour energy into more applications or work, and have nothing left for the task for which you are here.
The reality that many of the factors determining the shortlists for interview are beyond your control and hardly a reflection on your value is no balm to soothe the gaping wounds reopened after a dozen rejections already this year.
'You can do everything right, and still lose.'
I don't think Picard is seeking to offer Data comfort in that observation. I think he offers him something to hold on to, when he is ready to pick himself up and move on.
I might do nothing wrong in the application process and still lose.
I am not comforted by that thought. But it may help me nod acceptance, get up off the floor, dust myself off, and move on.